Unclear when efforts to remove homeless camp outside Seattle City Hall will resume
Nearly two weeks ago, workers arrived at a homeless encampment outside Seattle City Hall to remove tents from the area. But after those efforts were blocked for days by the presence of a local advocacy group, it’s now unclear when the removal will resume.
‘We’re here to stay’: Activists continue to block removal of Seattle homeless camp
The camp is located on Fourth Avenue between James and Columbia, where the city posted a notice of removal on Friday, Feb. 18. After the notice was posted, activists with a group known as Stop the Sweeps Seattle organized mutual aid volunteers to “show up and push back,” holding the area for hours and refusing to allow city workers in to remove tents.
The group maintained its presence for the days that followed, vowing to remain in the area until shelter and services were offered to those living in the encampment.
The initial plan from the city was to clear the camp without prior outreach, with Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office noting at the time that there is “no requirement for offers of shelter when an encampment is creating an obstruction.” Removing any camps that aren’t deemed to be obstructing public rights of way requires the presence of outreach workers to offer shelter and services, although a vast majority of encampment removals in Seattle do not qualify under the city’s guidelines.
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But after the arrival of below-freezing temperatures last week, removal efforts for the city hall camp were paused while outreach workers were sent out to offer “connections to services and shelter,” facilitating three referrals to enhanced shelter spaces. At the time, a spokesperson for Mayor Harrell indicated that the removal would resume once the weather-driven pause on removals was lifted.
Volunteers with Stop the Sweeps have remained at the encampment this week to offer mutual aid services. Meanwhile, Mayor Harrell’s office clarified on Friday that while the camp remains “on the list for resolution,” the city is not prepared to publicize a date for when removal efforts might resume. Subsequent outreach to unhoused individuals in the area is “ongoing” in the meantime.